Each summer, they would cluster in front of TVs and from their clenched body language and desperate faces you would think they were in the grip of some horrid agony, that life was ebbing in their veins. In Fenway Park each summer night you could watch those same behaviors with, occasionally, Stephen King sitting in the bleachers, hunched like a stormcrow in their midst. They knew something would happen to destroy their hopes; they awaited the inevitable. Decades of failure had conditioned them to expect the worst, and this exacted a terrible psychological toll. Psychotic incidents occurred with increasing regularity throughout New England. I was witness to many such. For instance, during the 1986 World Series, when Mookie Wilson’s grounder dribbled between Bill Buford’s legs, my friend Phil, a bartender at an upscale watering hole on Nantucket, walked out into the night, leaving the bar untended, full of aghast, shocked fans, nearly five hundred dollars in his tip jar, and did not return until the next day. Even the certifiably insane had a distinct Red Sox-ian tinge to their dementia. An inmate at he Bridgeport asylum, for example, began having his household possessions mailed to an elderly woman on Nantucket, a woman he did not know and had never even seen, because (he said) an inner voice had told him that if he did this, the Red Sox would win the Series.
Now that the Sox have won a World Series, you would think that all this would be a thing of the past; but it is not. The same embittered desperation still rules the hearts and minds of Red Sox Nation, as they have taken to calling themselves. Each night in bars across New England, you see the same afflicted, tormented people glued to their TVs, and you can watch the crowds in Fenway writhe and grimace with every pitch, their eyes glittering with insanity, joined not only by Stephen King but also Ben Affleck (talk about your feeble totems). Victory for them has come too late. It will never be enough to win. As with cinematic zombies, there can be no cure for their disease, no feast that will assuage their appetites. So join with me in praying for a miraculous intervention that will end their misery, a light in the sky that will lobotomize and pacify them, or—more reasonably—a stadium-destroying event that will eliminate their sickness from the face of the earth.